A keynote speech by Labor leader Bill Shorten in Tasmania is back on after a late rally in ticket sales avoided an embarrassing cancellation.
The opposition had canned Wednesday’s speech and formal lunch in Devonport, in the by-election seat of Braddon, because organisers managed to sell only 15 of 80 tickets.
But the publicity generated by cancelling the event prompted more tickets to be sold, and the speech was to be given at a hotel as planned.
Mr Shorten will also attend a town hall meeting on Wednesday night, and a breakfast meeting on Thursday in the electorate.
He rejected suggestions he had been snubbed by business after backtracking on a pledge to repeal company tax cuts for businesses with turnover of $10 million to $50 million.
“If some Liberal business people would rather listen to their Liberal leader than the Labor leader, I don’t take it personally,” Mr Shorten said in Devonport.
After Mr Shorten’s about-face, the opposition agreed to retain tax cuts for businesses with turnover of $50 million.
Labor frontbencher Richard Marles said the initial reports of the speech’s cancellation were a beat-up.
“Doing events are, of course, important. But, if we’re being honest, they come and go and Bill has done hundreds of events around the country,” Mr Marles told Sky News.